DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Reviews by Studio
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
DVD Savant
HD Talk
Horror DVDs
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum

Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

Columns




June 19, 2017

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it. (Behold the mighty Mishka)

Savant's new reviews today are:

Brother Can You Spare a Dime
The Sprocket Vault
DVD


 It's 1930s America as seen in the movies, through music, and the evasions of newsreels. Franklin Delano Roosevelt preaches prosperity while James Cagney slugs out the decade as a smart-tongued everyman -- in a dozen different roles. Director Philippe Mora investigates what was then a new kind of revisionist info-tainment formula: applying old film footage to new purposes. The presentation includes a full hour of non-depressing Depression-era newsreels. On DVD from The Sprocket Vault.
06/20/17




The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
Arrow Video
Blu-ray


 This time they may have gotten it right! If a knife or a straight razor won't do, how about killing a victim with 500-pound metal artwork studded with spikes? Dario Argento distilled a new kind of slick, visually fetishistic horror who-dunnit thriller subgenre with this shocker, aided by the dreamy cinematography of Vittorio Storaro. With Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, Eva Renzi and Umberto Raho. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Arrow Video.
06/20/17




and

Roberto Rossellini's War Trilogy
The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray


 Rome Open City, Paisan, Germany Year Zero: Filmed mostly on the streets in newly-liberated territory, Roberto Rossellini's gripping war-related shows are blessed with new restorations but still reflect their rough origins. The second picture, the greater masterpiece, looks as if it were improvised out of sheer artistic will. The disc set comes with more key-source extras than you can shake a grissino at. From The Criterion Collection.
06/20/17





Hello! Hey, they turned up the heat for summer out here.

Twilight Time just announced their September releases, and they're all good for disc fans. All six titles appear on the 19th: September (1987) is a serious Woody Allen drama set in a confined space, and is a good place to see the late, great Elaine Stritch. The unheralded Hour of the Gun is one of John Sturges' very best westerns, with James Garner and Jason Robards. Lawman with Burt Lancaster is a Michael Winner film that's actually not annoying. The CinemaScope, color and stereophonic sound Beneath the Twelve Mile Reef is from a script by A.I. 'Buzz' Bezzerides, with a great music score by Bernard Herrmann. And Gun Fury 3D is a Raoul Walsh western I've never seen, featuring Rock Hudson and Donna Reed in 3 Dimensions!

Criterion goes all 'artful' on us in September. Hitchcock's Rebecca (9.05) is the main vintage title, accompanied by Murray Lerner's music documentary Festival (9.12). Michael Haneke's The Piano Teacher (9.26) with Isabelle Huppert, Kelly Reichart's well-received Certain Women (9.19) with Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart; and the new docu David Lynch, The Art Life (9.26).

As for the side-by-side pictures at the top of the frame, my excuse is that my daughter's dog inspired me. And ya can't frustrate inspiration.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



June 16, 2017

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Savant's new reviews today are:

The Man from Planet X
Scream Factory
Blu-ray


 The first visitor from outer space in the '50s sci-fi boom is one very curious guy, dropping to Earth in a ship like a diving bell and scaring the bejesus out of Sally Field's mother. Micro-budgeted space invasion fantasy gets off to a great start, thanks to the filmmaking genius of our old pal Edgar G. Ulmer. With Robert Clarke and the great William Schallert -- and given a fine audio commentary by Tom Weaver and friends. On Blu-ray from Scream Factory.
06/17/17




Marcel Pagnol:
The Marseille Trilogy

The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray


 Marius * Fanny * César No longer out of reach, Marcel Pagnol's stunning 3-feature saga of love and honor in a French seaport is one of the great movie experiences -- and the most emotional workout this viewer has seen in years. The tradition of greatness in the French sound cinema began with gems like these, starring legendary actors that were sometimes billed only with their last names: Raimu, Charpin. Those two, Pierre Fresnay and Orane Demazis are simply unforgettable -- it's 6.5 hours of dramatic wonderment. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
06/17/17




and

8 Million Ways to Die
KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray


 Tonight on 'movies we really want to like' we have Hal Ashby's final feature, an L.A.- based crime saga with a great cast and spirited direction and . . . and not much else. It isn't the train wreck described in Kino's candid actor interviews, but we can see only too well why it wasn't a big winner when new. Any day that a Jeff Bridges picture doesn't shine, is a dark day in my book. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
06/17/17





Hello!

After my admittedly enthusiastic review for Blue Underground's Death Line last time, it wasn't long before this email arrived -- from the film's director, Gary Sherman:

Glenn. . .

Thank you for that great review. It is very gratifying to have one's work so completely understood. Again Thank You. Would like to correct one misconception. The tracking shot was originally done in one piece. Unfortunately, the negative of the one perfect take was damaged. This was long before we had CGI to fix things like that. So I had to work a little analog magic to remove the damaged frames. It didn't really change the flow or content of the shot, just eliminated passing through one archway. You are the first to notice and the first to get an explanation. Bravo! -- Gary (Sherman), June 15.


I'm pretty sure that it's Gary Teetzel that tipped me off to this 45-second 'Horror Pictures Collection' film clip from 1934: taking a break from the set of The Black Cat, Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi are in costume as they review children parading past with their pet cats, some of them black, for a Universal Newsreel. The kids look none too happy, but we can't tell if the black-clad actors make them nervous, or the if the kitties are scratching them to ribbons. Or maybe the publicity gag is being filmed at that grim WW1 cemetery from the movie.

And an even briefer glimpse of Bela Lugosi is offered in the newsreel clip from the California Pacific International Exposition from San Francisco. Bela appears at the 48-second mark, doing some hand-kissing with Marie Wilson, while Lee Tracy watches. I think my IDs are correct, so here's your chance to show me up. (It figures... so far both Joe Dante and Craig Reardon identify the woman as Anita Louise not Marie Wilson. Time to go stare at some faces some more.)

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



June 13, 2017

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Savant's two new reviews today are:

Death Line
Blue Underground
Blu-ray + DVD


 Aka Raw Meat. This early gore-horror picture has a remarkable emphasis on human values, believe it or not, with a 'monster' that nevertheless is a paragon of loving gentleness. Add Donald Pleasance as a surly, posh-hating police inspector, and the shock value makes the Hammer films of the early '70s taste like weak tea. With David Ladd, Norman Rossington, Sharon Gurney, Hugh Armstrong. From Blue Underground.
06/13/17




and

The Lodger (1927)
The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray


 Hitchcock's first self-professed 'Hitch' picture is still a silent-screen winner. Many of his recurring themes are present, and some of his visual fluidity – in this finely tuned commercial 'shock' movie with witty visual tricks from Hitchcock's own background as an art director. And hey, he secured a real box office name to star as the mysterious maybe-slayer 'The Avenger,' Ivor Novello. As an extra we also get Hitchcock's 1927 silent Downhill. From The Criterion Collection.
06/13/17





Hello! Some fun links today.

Correspondent Stefan Andersson turns our attention to the web magazine The Edit Room Floor, where the April 15 issue has a three-part article on the Italian restoration of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Stefan reports that they´ve even found the Italian censorship notes and translated them into English. Thanks Stefan -- !

Ever wonder what the great screenwriter Samuel Taylor looks or sounds like? Like a great gentleman, that's what. The writer of Vertigo speaks for seven full minutes about Alfred Hitchcock, in this Eyes on Cinema YouTube clip forwarded by correspondent Craig Reardon. And Taylor expresses his own opinion of the absurdity of the storyline of Vertigo.

And about my review last week of Blast-Off, advisor Gary Teetzel reminded me that producer Harry Alan Towers did indeed work with Orson Welles in two radio shows, The Adventures of Harry Lime and The Black Museum.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



June 09, 2017

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Savant's new reviews today are:

Good Morning (ohayo)
The Criterion Collection
Blu-ray


 It's Yasujiro Ozu in light mode, except that his insights into the human social mechanism make this cheerful neighborhood comedy as meaningful as his dramas. Two boys go on a 'talk strike' because they want a television set, a choice that has an effect on everyone around them. And what can you say about a movie with running jokes about flatulence . . . and is still a world-class classic? . On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
06/10/17




The Man in the Moon
Twilight Time
Blu-ray


 Robert Mulligan's late career gem is a beautiful, fad-free tale of teenage romance with universal appeal, famed for introducing Reese Witherspoon to the screen. She's truly a sensation, as is the actress Emily Warfield as the older sister who 'steals' Reese's beau. Photographed by Freddie Francis, this tops even Mulligan's To Kill a Mockingbird.
06/10/17




and

Blast-Off
Olive Films
Blu-ray


 An admiring nod to '60s dream siren Daliah Lavi! American-International leaps into an epic Jules Verne comedy about a trip to the moon, a good-looking but slow and unfunny farce that must squeak by on the goodwill of its cast of comedians. Burl Ives is excellent casting as P.T. Barnum, organizing a Greatest Show OFF the Earth. Aka Those Fantastic Flying Fools and Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon; also starring Terry-Thomas, Gert Fröbe, Lionel Jeffries, Troy Donahue, Dennis Price, Hermione Gingold. On Blu-ray from Olive Films.
06/10/17





Hello!

Correspondent John Vincent, in correcting a mistake I made about the Max Fleischer animation studio mentioned in last Tuesday's column, also tipped me off to his website / blog Uncle John's Crazy Town. The page is a pretty amusing ongoing ode to animation in general. John's latest entry is about a short series of pictures called Fleischer's Animated Antics. They look familiar -- I'm not sure whether or not I've seen them.


A Book Review: Tom Weaver has a new book out in his Bear Manor 'Scripts from the Crypt' series, an informative dive into Boris Karloff worship called Boris Karloff's The Veil. Definitely an item for focused fans on the greatest of all horror stars – and there are plenty of them out there -- The Veil digs into a heretofore underreported episode in the Mr. K's career – his late '50s years hosting spooky TV shows, while moonlighting as a change-of-pace special guest on TV variety shows, like that of Dinah Shore. Karloff fans that think they know everything about their hero may receive something of a shock, as the book uncovers a TV show called The Veil. Ten episodes were produced in 1958, but when the fabled Hal Roach studio went belly-up they were consigned to the vault and never aired.

Weaver's book series to some degree follows a research 'n' scrapbook format grouped around reprints of some key scripts from the ill-fated series. Much in the book's favor is the sheer unfamiliarity of the subject, here illuminated by a lifetime of research. Weaver's key essay has sufficient data to tell the story of the series in great detail, with little or no guesswork. Each of the episodes is explained in full detail, with mini-bios for the actors involved. When Weaver showed 'rescued' episodes to one of the show's directors, he couldn't remember working on it! For other angles Weaver relies on specialized essays. Barbara Bibas Montero's piece covers the career of her father, the show's producer. Martin Varno (yes, THE Martin Varno, the legendary screenwriter of Night of the Blood Beast) offers a glimpse of what working life was like on the Roach lot, a huge Culver City studio crumbling in disrepair, and soon to fall into receivership.

The book's multiple perspectives are good, too. Weaver presents a well-documented account of the studio's demise as reported in the trade papers. Hal Roach Jr. announced dozens of upcoming shows, just days before the whole studio went before the auction block. That's followed up by an excellent overview of fantasy-horror TV production in the late '50s by Dr. Robert J. Kiss. The takeaway info is that The Veil would at best have shaped up as a weak sister to its genre competition One Step Beyond, and Karloff's later hit show Thriller. And we even hear the story of how the original film material was rescued from oblivion, by the late proprietor of the Something Weird video label, Mike Vraney.

Tom Weaver can be highly critical of genre pictures that don't meet his personal criteria, and his writing refuses to sugarcoat The Veil. Despite some good playing, he finds that most of the episodes are weak both in story and execution, with Boris Karloff's recurring roles only infrequently giving him a diverting character to play. Weaver is surprisingly hard on Karloff, for seemingly taking any job that came along and even for being a pinchpenny. To me it's entirely understandable if the old gent just put on his gracious act for P.R. purposes. Before stardom came he'd led as brutal a life as a 'wandering actor' could, working in unreliable stage companies out in Canada and the northwest. He'd long ago discovered that he could work simultaneously on Broadway and in junk movies, without a deleterious effect on his career. True, the series doesn't sound like much of a keeper, but the detail is absorbing. Was Karloff required to provide some of his own costumes? Weaver marvels at the fact that he always wears the same tie, not only in the spooky episode intros, but also when in character in some of the shows.

Boris Karloff's The Veil concludes with some extra scripts, some interesting photos and collector errata such as an appendix on a grim double murder committed by the actor's niece back in England. Everything is thoroughly indexed and annotated, making this a serious reference book as well, not just a compendium of fan fluff or (cough) reviewer opinion. Weaver always manages to make interesting reading of what the mainstream might consider some pretty minor '50s horror efforts. This particular subject may sound less essential than others, but the book's peek into the realities of '50s horror TV production is often illuminating.


I may be a little late with next Tuesday's reviews --- it's a family weekend and if I go near a TV monitor it will be for pleasure.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



June 06, 2017

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Savant's new reviews today are:

Joe Versus the Volcano
The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray


 "May you live to be a thousand years old, sir." Still the most widely unheralded great movie on the books, John Patrick Shanley's lightweight/profound fable is an unmitigated delight. See Tom Hanks at the end of the first phase of his career plus Meg Ryan in an unacknowledged career highlight. How can a movie be so purposely insubstantial, and yet be 'heavier' than a dozen pictures with 'big things to say?' With Lloyd Bridges, Abe Vigoda and Robert Stack. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
06/06/17




Le désordre et la nuit
Pathé France
All- Region Blu-ray


 Lovers of hot-blooded French noir will love this 1958 B&W drama, which swaps violence for a dangerous sexual relationship between a cop and drug addict suspected of a murder. If this is a 'lazy' star vehicle for French superstar Jean Gabin, please bring us more -- in his paunchy 'fifties Monsieur Gabin takes on a beauty half his age, and convinces us that he can keep her. With Danielle Darrieux and Nadja Tiller. On All-Region Blu-ray from Pathé France.
06/06/17




and

The Paradine Case
KL Studio Classics
Blu-ray


 This isn't the only Alfred Hitchcock film for which the love does not flow freely, but his 1947 final spin on the David O. Selznick-go-round is more a subject for study than Hitch's usual fun suspense ride. Gregory Peck looks unhappy opposite Selznick 'discovery' Alida Valli, while an utterly top-flight cast tries to bring life to mostly irrelevant characters. With Charles Laughton, Charles Coburn, Ann Todd and Ethel Barrymore. Who comes off best? Young Louis Jourdan, that's who. On Blu-ray from KL Studio Classics.
06/06/17





Hello!

You may still have a chance to see them -- this afternoon and evening TCM is showing movies by Edgar G. Ulmer, including a pair I barely remember, The Naked Dawn and The Cavern. Plus the usual suspects The Black Cat, Detour, and The Man from Planet X. I keep tuning in for Detour, hoping a perfect print will someday surface. Best wishes to Arriané!

Joe Dante has circulated a YouTube link to a 1930s tour of Max Fleischer's Animation studio in Florida ... in Cinecolor. It's at a YouTube link called Popular Science. I hope those animators didn't wear those ties and tight collars all the time, in the hot Florida climate.

And if you're on your way to Rio de Janeiro, don't forget the wolfsbane, garlic and crucifixes. As reported by Gary Teetzel, they're currently having a slight problem with vampire bats down there. Time to wear shirts with collars again.

As soon as I posted the review for the French movie above, I received a nice note from correspondent Pierre Robitaille, who reminded me that, in addition to "Renée Simonot (mother of Catherine Deneuve, born in 1915) and Gisèle Casadesus, a noted member of La Comédie Française (b.1914), the beautiful Danielle Darrieux, on May 1st, joined the circle of French actresses who have lived for more than a century."  Thanks, Pierre.

And finally, before I forget, the news has broken online that Kino will be remastering and releasing on disc the two seasons of Leslie Stevens' and Joe Stefano's Outer Limits. That's great news for those of us who shivered in front of our TVs wondering what it meant that a 'control voice' was taking over our televisions. They say that season one will hit this Fall and season two next Spring. I asked OL expert David J. Schow a while back if the show was filmed allowing for widescreen, so that it could be re-formatted and shown theatrically overseas. He said no, so we'll have to make do with all those great Conrad Hall images in the flat format. But the HD clarity should make them look MUCH better -- all those misty shots in the Outer Limits style will no longer resolve as digital mush.

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson



June 03, 2017

Why is this picture here? CLICK on it.

Savant's new reviews today are:

Spotlight on a Murderer
Arrow Academy
Blu-ray + DVD


  Pleins feux sur l'assassin. The uncanny Georges Franju strikes again, in an Agatha Christie-like thriller imbued with his special mood, the eerie music of Maurice Jarre and some great actors including Jean-Marie Trintignant, Pierre Brasseur, Dany Saval, Marianne Koch and Pascale Audret. If mood is the key, then Franju has found an ideal setting, a beautifully preserved castle -- and then the murders begin. A Dual-Format edition on Blu-ray and DVD from Arrow Academy.
06/03/17




The Picasso Summer
The Warner Archive Collection
DVD


 Yet another puzzle picture, that came out on DVD back with the first wave of WAC films in 2010. An expensive romance with Albert Finney and Yvette Mimieux, it was filmed in Europe, co-written by Ray Bradbury and bears the music of Michel Legrand, including an exceedingly well known pop song. Yet it sat on a shelf for three years, only to make a humiliating world debut on TV -- on CBS's Late Nite Movie. It was clearly one of those Productions From Hell, where nothing went right. On DVD from The Warner Archive Collection.
06/03/17




and

The Gumball Rally
The Warner Archive Collection
Blu-ray


 Cars! Cars! Cars! What climate accord, when we're celebrating the internal combustion engine! One of the best of the breezy '70s action comedies, this cross-country road race picture gave us early looks at Gary Busey and Raul Julia in the midst of an always-amusing ensemble of car crazies, out to go from Manhattan to the Pacific in less than two days, at speeds up 175 mph! No 55 speed limit, no catalytic converters! Starring Michael Sarrazin and a score of fast-fast-fast dream cars. On Blu-ray from The Warner Archive Collection.
06/03/17





Hello!

Gary Teetzel is on top of the links again today, reporting first on the storm of excited stop-motion fans talking about a new restoration of Willis O'Brien's 1925 The Lost World. Reading all of the posts is a bit confusing, but the new version appears to be of much better quality, and as much as ten minutes longer than anything we've seen. That claim wouldn't mean much if the frame rate were simply being slowed down; but those that have seen it say that numerous new scenes are involved, with new animation. The disc is coming from Flicker Alley and the extras include a new Bob Israel score, new transfers of three other Willis O'Brien animation items. And Gary links to a restored clip that shows scenes with original tinting. To me it looks almost too good to be true.


And as promised, Gary reports on his screening of the new Pirates of the Caribbean in the new "ScreenX" format from South Korea. It doesn't seem to be so much a new format as an enhanced screening experience. I haven't seen it but it sounds rather like the feature on old flat Disney animation movies, that fill in the pillarbox extremes on widescreen TVs with 'related' visual information, something like art illumination in ancient books. Here's Gary's report.

On Tuesday, May 30, I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales at the CGV Cinema in Los Angeles' Koreatown to experience the film in "ScreenX." First developed in South Korea in 2012, the process is a modern twist on Cinerama: additional picture information is projected onto the side walls of a movie theater to give viewers ultra-wide, panoramic visuals -- a full 270 degrees of image. ScreenX has been used on several South Korean feature films and in-theater advertisements; Pirates marks the first Hollywood feature to receive a (very limited) U.S. release in the process.

It should be noted up front that the entire film did not utilize the system, but rather just 10 to 15 minutes sprinkled throughout the runtime, not unlike the selected scenes Christopher Nolan shot in IMAX for the last two Dark Knight films. Furthermore, in a small handful of instances the walls did not depict contiguous image, but general "atmosphere," such as flickering flames.

So how was it? First, a few negatives. Since the system projects directly onto theater walls and not smooth screens (at least in the venue where I saw it), one might note a distracting detail now and then, like the auditorium's speakers. Also, since the film was shot with only the front screen in mind, visuals on the walls sometimes draw the eye away from where the central action is. A few establishing shots using the process are relatively brief and don't give the viewer enough time to take in the full image.

In spite of those drawbacks, the system was at times very impressive, and did indeed deliver the 'immersive' effect promised in the ballyhoo. The best sequences came just before the climax, in which the characters explore some fantasy environments. Several shots linger long enough for viewers to take in dazzling sights all around them. It's very effective and adds a touch of welcome old-fashioned showmanship to the proceedings.

Ultimately, though, one walks away from ScreenX feeling its application to narrative features to be limited. Even if filmmakers planned to use the format from the get-go, it's unlikely that audiences would want to sit through an entire feature that demanded they constantly turn their heads right and left to follow the action. It would be ideal for travelogues or perhaps some experimental shorts--but when was the last time you saw a travelogue or a short subject in a mainstream theater?

For more information on ScreenX, check out their website. For Angelenos interested in seeing the process for themselves, the ScreenX version of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales is still playing at the CGV Cinemas in Koreatown and Buena Park. Note that the film has English audio, but Korean subtitles. -- Gary Teetzel

Thanks for reading! --- Glenn Erickson


Don't forget to write Savant at dvdsavant@mindspring.com.

Advertise With Us

Review Staff | About DVD Talk | Newsletter Subscribe | Join DVD Talk Forum
Copyright © DVDTalk.com All rights reserved | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use


Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise